Hi, Dad. Happy Father’s Day. You may have noticed I didn’t get you a card. I looked, I really did. In four different stores. But Father’s Day cards are irritatingly stupid. They’re all aimed at men who are bumbling fools, men who start home repair projects and never finish them. These men hog the remote control, drink lots of beer, love to golf, and are uniformly uninspiring.
These men are not you.
For one thing, you start and COMPLETE home repair projects with blinding speed. Things I would never dream of doing myself, you size up, and then announce, “So, I’m going to paint the house.” Now, if I said that, what it would mean is that I intend to bring home paint chips, tape them to the walls, make you look at them, take them down in despair when I can’t decide on a color, tuck the paint chips on a shelf, then throw them away three months later, disgusted with myself for never following through.
But you. You announce your plan, and by the time we’ve blinked in response, you’re out there, scraping the old paint away.
Plus you don’t watch TV, or drink beer, or play golf.
Those cards wouldn’t do, you see? I was talking to my friend Amy last week about our plans for Father’s Day. She’d baked cookies and mailed them to her dad (who was, I mention pointedly, going to golf school this weekend). I complimented her on her dutiful daughterliness. I, on the other hand, I told her, did NOT know what to get you.
“That’s tough,” she admitted, “because of everything he’s done for you. It’s not like you could give him a gift that would really repay it.”
“Exactly.” I said, “Except maybe if he needed a kidney, I guess.”
“Right. But he doesn’t.”
“No! So here I am, and what do I do for him?”
Well, I did get you a gift…and I hope you like it. I mean, what says love like a staple gun? But it isn’t enough. And how could it be?
My first memory is of you. Well, your hands. You were taking apart a car engine, and handing me the parts. I washed them a pan of gasoline and handed them back to you. I remember your hands, the whorls of your fingerprints black with oil. I remember the oily feeling of the gas. I remember looking up, into a deep blue sky, and watching a plane pass over head, leaving a white plume. There’s not much of that one memory, but the details that stayed with me are crystal clear. Also the feeling of it. You were there, I was there. What more could a little girl ask?
Today in church, Raphael came back to sit with us after Sunday school. He raced right past me and thumped chest-first into your knees.
“Appa!” he announced, “Ah’m here!”
You were there, he was there. What more could he ask?
My life has ended up in a place where my kids won’t be growing up with safe, warm memories of their own dad. In an era when you should be enjoying a little peace and quiet, you’ve taken on the task of giving them as much of that safety as you can. And we all know how determinedly you take on projects.
So I’m sorry I didn’t find you a card. None of them would do. And I wish I could have gotten you a gift that would express even a bit of my gratitude.
Happy Father’s Day.
And if you want a kidney, I’m your girl.